By Dele Sobowale
“Everything that is done in this world is done in hope”, Martin Luther, 1483-1546, German Reformer. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS).
The regular readers of this page must forgive me for postponing, once again, the continuation of the series on the INHERITORS – the second generations of Nigerians who allowed great enterprises bequeathed to them to crumble. The next would have been the LAWSON Group of Companies, among which was the ECOBANK, once headed by Mr Kolapo Lawson. The slide down the greasy slope of misfortune for the group started several years ago. But, this is not the time for that.
This is the time for celebration, once again, by old Lagos boys who remember when Bristol hotel was the place to go for unparalleled enjoyment. At the height of its fame, it was easily the best hotel in the Central Business District, CBD, of Lagos and simply delightful.
But the years have not been too kind to Bristol and it had become a victim of one atrocious management, after another, until it became a beehive of illegal activities, con men, and dope peddlers. With the demise of Bristol Hotel, Lagos lost its last prestigious hotel in the CBD. And, that unfortunate transformation rendered Lagos CBD the only one without a decent hotel in the whole world. The implications are too numerous to describe. But, let me point out a few.
The quick lunch, at a familiar but decent hotel, which saved millions of busy executives from sudden debt on account of stress, was no longer possible — once the high class hotel closed its doors to top class clientele and became a haven for robbers and money-changers. To have a decent lunch these days, the top executives of UBA, First Bank, Union Bank, CBN, FCMB, WEMA, etc have to get in their cars and head for V.I – a time consuming endeavour. Similarly, those working late and who must have a quick bite to eat were also handicapped in this way.
Staff of the banks and other businesses, coming from outstation, have also been forced to lodge elsewhere – other than Lagos Island. That meant having to commute to the Island everyday, suffering from the imminent traffic hold-up, while in Lagos. Those days will soon come to an end. Once Bristol re-opens for business, they can lodge in Lagos Island and stroll to their assignments…..
MORE ON THAT LATER.
OKONJO-IWEALA: KILLING US SOFTLY WITH DEBT
“Every hero[ine] becomes a bore at last”, Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1808-1882. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS p 90).
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, like most of us who studied in America, and undertook elective courses, must have read about Emerson. When she came in 2003, ostensibly to teach us a lesson that Nigeria as a nation should avoid the debt trap, we believed she was sincere. Even when she overpaid our Western creditors, who we later learnt, foisted her on us, we still gave her credit for helping us to escape the debt trap.
But, “what does corrupting time not diminish?” asked Horace, 65-8 B.C. Today, we have on our hands a Minister of Finance who has been part of the conspiracy to return us to the debt trap. Sometimes, one wonders if the measure she introduced in 2003 was really her own or was either handed to her from the World Bank, or, God forbid, plagiarized from another economic guru. The fact is; the Dr Okonjo-Iweala of 2014 bears no resemblance to the 2003 version; they only bear the same name. One might even find oneself indulging in the satanic thought that there might have been some sort of identity theft. Has somebody kidnapped the “real” Okonjo-Iweala and are we now dealing with an impostor?
Just in case you think this is all crazy stuff, please take a look at these graphs and figures representing the mounting domestic debt situation and the frightening debt servicing burden this country now experiences.
Later, I will reveal the external debt situation. And the situation is getting worse. Is this any way to run a Ministry of Finance?
Since, as the Chinese say, “a picture is worth more than a thousand words”, there will be no comment from me. Judge for yourself.